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America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Iran: A prisoner hanged, 3 dozen death verdicts issued in run-up to elections

The Iranian regime's henchmen in the main prison of the northern city of Gorgan secretly hanged a 52-year-old man who had been arrested on drug-related charges.

The Iranian regime's judiciary has recently confirmed death sentences for at least 40 prisoners that are being held in Gezel-Hessar Prison in Karaj, north-west of Tehran. Most of the prisoners had asked for their cases to be reviewed but their death sentence were confirmed within 1-2 days and they were informed of the final verdicts on Sunday.

In the run-up to the sham elections in Iran, Iran's clerical regime has intensified issuing death sentences, handing down long prison terms and carrying out cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments in public.

Amnesty International said in its yearly report on violations of human rights in Iran: "The authorities continued to use the death penalty extensively, and carried out numerous executions, including of juvenile offenders. Some executions were conducted in public."

"Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees remained common and was committed with impunity; prison conditions were harsh. Unfair trials continued, in some cases resulting in death sentences."

"Women and members of ethnic and religious minorities faced pervasive discrimination in law and in practice. The authorities carried out cruel punishments, including blinding, amputation and floggings. Courts imposed death sentences for a range of crimes; many prisoners, including at least 4 juvenile offenders, were executed."

"Courts continued to impose, and the authorities continued to carry out, punishments that violate the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. These were sometimes carried out in public and included flogging, blinding and amputations. On 3 March the authorities in Karaj deliberately blinded a man in his left eye after a court sentenced him to 'retribution-in-kind' (qesas) for throwing acid into the face of another man. He also faced blinding of his right eye."

Source: NCRI, Feb. 26, 2016

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